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Sustainable Shetland wind farm warning

| Written by Hans J Marter

CAMPAIGNERS opposing the Viking Energy wind farm have repeated their warning that Shetland faces being swamped by large wind turbines.

Sustainable Shetland’s comments came in response to news that a group of 18 Shetland businesses are proposing a 150 to 200 megawatt wind farm on Yell and Unst.

The Energy Isles announcement on Wednesday was immediately welcomed by the Viking Energy developers who said they could accommodate the extra capacity on the proposed 600 megawatt interconnector.

Sustainable Shetland spokesman James Mackenzie said they had every sympathy for people in Unst and Yell who want to arrest the economic decline of their islands.

However he argued: “We are not persuaded that the construction of another large wind farm is the only solution.

“Should there be an interconnector to the Scottish mainland, there is a grave danger that the islands will in effect become one very large array of turbines, probably in complete disregard of the council’s planning policy.”

The final decision on whether to invest in a 300 kilometre interconnector lies with the energy regulator Ofgem.

Earlier this week an electricity summit in Stornoway heard about the obstacles facing the Scottish islands wishing to tap into their green energy resources.

Meanwhile Sustainable Shetland said they were focusing on the Viking Energy judicial review appeal that started on Thursday morning in the Edinburgh Court of Session.

The hearing before three judges had been expected to take up to seven days, but was speeded up with written submissions and completed within a single day.

The judges will now consider the submissions over the next few months before making a ruling.

The Scottish government had appealed a previous ruling by Lady Clark of Calton that their planning consent for the Viking Energy wind farm was incompetent.

She said that insufficient regard had been taken of the European Birds Directive and the developers did not hold an electricity generating licence.

Sustainable Shetland has raised 80 per cent of its target to crowdfund £20,000 towards its latest legal expenses, which could amount to £40,000.

The group has already raised £100,000 to pay for its initial judicial review.

Mackenzie said: “We wish to remind people that Scottish Natural Heritage and the RSPB objected to the project, and that SIC councillors overruled their own planning officials’ recommendation to object to the Viking wind farm.

“It should also not be forgotten that the Viking wind farm project has been immensely divisive in the Shetland community, so much so that its assumed benefits should be seriously called into question.”

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